Friday, April 22, 2011

Cut the crap

President Obama's commission on gas prices is a great political move, but won't accomplish much. He is a terrific communicator and a skilled campaigner, but has trouble getting things done to benefit regular folks. How’s the appointment of GE’s CEO to his advisory group working out? GE pays no corporate income taxes and ships 28,000 good jobs oversees and this is the guy that is supposed to help us out of the recession? Almost makes you want Neutron Jack back in charge at GE, eh?

Then of course there are the financial and banking gurus we bailed out with our taxes who are pulling down those large salaries and bonuses but not sharing. Any of those clowns ever go to Kindergarten? Remember, all these tax breaks for the rich are supposed to create millions of jobs. Big profits announced by Microsoft and the oil companies this week, yet we put another 400,000 people on unemployment insurance. Happy Easter.

The Feds want to extend tax breaks for the well to do and NYS wants to give the fat cats even more tax breaks. Both levels of government are cutting and slashing Medicaid, Medicare and other entitlements with no plan to deal with the issues in the long term and the business lobby and most political wonks think these are good moves for the nation. Okay, but who will pick up the costs when these people get really sick and end up in emergency rooms or nursing homes?

Who is going to pay for the long-term care for all the casualties of all these freaking wars we keep starting, with no plan to end? We know that the VA and the military don't want to provide the long-term care and financial support these folks the politicians are so quick to praise as heroes will need when they come back home. Ask some of these homeless vets or the ones who can't work because they are so fucked up from the things that happen to them while overseas if they feel like heroes when nobody seems to care if they live or die.

My heart is breaking and my head is going to explode. I'm not a bit religious, but I'm starting to think that we need a guy like Christ to come along again about now and bitch slap us all.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Second City

I just made my first trip to Toronto and came away quite impressed. It is a very cosmopolitan city with the same European feel as Montreal, though with a touch more NYC. It has vibrant cultural and entertainment districts and is also a terrific sports town. Downtown is alive with a variety of restaurants, pubs and bars.

We hit a great sports bar called Shoeless Joe's with some very impressive and talented bartenders and waitresses. There is also a neat Irish pub in the former Irish Embassy. The Loose Moose is a great local pub for after the game and the English pub Elephant and Castle has a very nice menu and one of the best selections of draft beers anywhere.

The people of Toronto are friendly and seem to be very fit. There are places serving healthy food every five feet and the locals walk, run and bike all over town. Everyone seems to be young and fit and there are more beautiful women than I have seen in any town outside of Boston or NY. This is a city I could grow to really enjoy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Big Beast Looks Bad

Big East Conference Pulls the Plug on Villanova Football

What an utter embarrassment for the Big East. The league tried to strong-arm Villanova into upgrading their football program. Now that the school appeared ready to make the move, the Big Beast pulls the rug out from under a charter member and solid citizen of the league.

Why did they pressure Villanova into undertaking this exhaustive study and never mention Georgetown or Notre Dame? Both those schools are in much better financial shape than Villanova and Notre Dame is already an established Division IA Football program with all the facilities and other supports in place. Why not tell ND to get in for football or start looking for another league for your other sports?

Never mind, I get it. Money; specifically TV money. Once ‘Nova saw how lucrative the Big East Football TV package is, they decided they could make the move and not lose money, just as UConn did. Did some Big East Football schools decide that since TCU has come in with another top 10 TV market that the league doesn’t need Villanova Football anymore and doesn’t want to share any more of the TV revenue? That is a likely scenario. The stadium won’t bring in much revenue, they won’t gain much of a TV share of the Philadelphia viewing audience, at least initially, and Villanova will take years to develop enough of a football following to make a significant contribution to the league coffers with merchandise sales, additional TV revenue, ticket sales and Bowl appearances.

On the surface this makes the Big East look very bad. Even Tim Higgins and Jim Burr can see that.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Feudal or Futile?

I need some help understanding just what is going on here. In New York, and nationally, there is strong support for policies that continue to pile the weight of the economic downturn on the shoulders of the middle and lower echelons of American society while extending more benefits to those who need no help.

In New York our legislature and governor voted a tax break for individuals making over $200,000 a year and couples earning more than $300,000 a year. This on top of the Federal tax break these same people received last year when Congress handed them a tax cut by voting to continue the Bush-era tax breaks. This is done, they say, to stimulate the economy and create jobs. How many jobs have the folks on Wall Street, who put us in this bind and are receiving big salaries and big  bonuses created in the past two years? More than they destroyed in the previous two? Nope!

How about multi-national firms ,like GE? Well, we know that they have created hundreds of jobs in their tax evasion departments. Their job is to find loopholes in the tax codes and exploit them for the benefit of the company. It is all legal, and something that virtually any organization would do, if it had the resources. GE paid no U. S. corporate income taxes last year. No taxes on billions in profits. Why? Because they can. They employ lobbyists and political contributions to influence how the tax laws are written and then hundreds of accountants and tax experts to use those laws to their benefit. Ah, if only the thousands of former employees GE fired over the years because their jobs had been shipped overseas had the same kind of influence and power.

Bill Bradley said it well on MSNBC's Morning Joe today when he said that if we don't address Social Security, health care, military spending and taxes at the same time, we will never get the deficit and the cost of government under control. The trouble is, both extremes of the political spectrum want only to confront one or two of those issues to play to the myopic views of the base of their respective parites. Why? Because they care more about staying in office and helping to enrich themselves and their supporters than about solving our problems. It is easier to pontificate, do little of substance, and reap the benefits of office than to attempt to find long-term solutions to complex problems and risk being voted out.

The gap between rich and poor continues to grow in the land of the free, while the politically brave are missing in action. I often blame the American public for not paying attention and continually electing the same boobs and crooks when it is really not our fault. Dave Matthews was right when he wrote in Waiting On The World To Change - It's not that we don't care, it's just that we know the fight ain't fair".

I always said that this current generation is smarter than the Boomers. We beat our chests and banged our heads against the wall and changed little about our society. This group takes a more Zen approach and goes with the flow, knowing that the rapid rush of water that yields to the rock and diverts around it, will eventually prevail and wash the boulder away, winning out in the end.

This grasshopper needs a beer.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Great Music

Austin City Limits is still the best music show on TV. Just got home and popped it on to find Jimmy Cliff live in concert. This guy has been producing great music for at least 40 years. And this show has showcased great musicians for at least as long.

I would love to get to Austin and see that music scene. I remember watching this show when I lived in Dallas in the early 80's and they had great acts like Asleep at The Wheel, Tom Waits and others from all around the state that played in Dallas clubs like The Filling Station, The It'll Do Club, The Bronx Club, just off Dealy Plaza, and others. Between those clubs and the dance clubs on Northwest Highway there was a wild and vibrant music scene in the Metroplex. It was a great time to be young and working in the clubs in the Dallas area. 

Pushing the season

Just got a call from Jimmy-James. It's breezy, 50 degrees and most of the snow is gone. Time for golf. Got a tee time in 20 minutes and then it's off to one of the local establishments to watch Kentucky and UCONN in the felon bowl. I think John Calipari is a better cheater than Jim Calhoun, so I'm gonna go with Kentucky. The VCU magic continues as they will beat Butler.